So...Verdun started 100 years ago today.

The first shells started flying on 2.21.16.

I recall reading in The Price of Glory that the primary reason for the battle failing for Germany was their inability to bring in sufficient troops because they had to prop up Austria, thus letting the French run free to set up battles by their intiiative.

Verdun by John Mosier is a revisionist tale that debunks a lot of the official history that sprang up to protect the reputation of the French high command. Things like how much ground the French really lost around Verdun and how so much of it was finally recaptured by US forces, not the French army. A good explanation of why Verdun the town was not that important but the location still needed to be captured.

A good book, but just keep in mind that the author seems to have an ax to grind when it comes to the French high command.

The Germans were not trying to “win” the battle at Verdun. The battle was due to a grisly piece of math: the Germans noticed that for every German casualty, there were two French casualty. By attacking, they hoped to draw in the French and bleed France white.

There really wasn’t much reason – other than national pride and revanche – to defend the Verdun salient. A withdrawal made far more sense, but General de Castelnau (after only a day or so at the battlefield) thought it defensible and ordered Petain to hold it.

Petain did the best he could given his orders. He organized supply (on the one road available) and made sure troops were rotated out to keep them fresh.

Ultimately, the Germans realized that the casualty ratio was 1:1. They could afford that, so the abandoned the fight.

I loved The Price of Glory and think it’s one of the best history books I’ve come across.

Mosier’s works must be taken a with a HUGE grain of salt. I read Blitzkrieg Myth and found so many errors, misrepresentations, misuses of sources, and special pleading that the book was essentaily useless. His primary target in that book was Rommel. :rolleyes:

I don’t trust the man’s works at this point.

Whenever I think of Verdun (or the Somme, or Ypres or Gallipoli), I am reminded of the closing lines of a movie about another war in another place, but the words remain true just the same:

Madness. Madness.

the clip:

They shall not pass.